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  • September 16th, 2009 | 2:01 AM
Of Dogs and Writing - Curb Your Enthusiasm

There are certain triggers for Cassie that let her know that someone is soon going to be leaving the house. My husband puts on his belt or his shoes. I swap out sweat pants for jeans or use the blow dryer on my hair. Any one of those things sets her off whining and pacing and jumping up and down with no thought of respectability or former training. Someone is going someplace and she doesn't want to be left behind.

Most of the time, if the two of us are going somewhere, she goes with us. But by the time we've done the blow dryer/jeans/belt/shoes routine she has worked herself up into such a frenzy that it is no longer about being with us but about being in the white heat of the moment. It's not good for her. She never calms down even after we're in the car. She just keeps up that constant high pitched bark that I translate into "Please don't leave me behind. Please let me come along. Please. Please. Please. I'll be your best friend." By the end of the trip, whether to the parents for dinner and a playdate with her cousin Circe or a longer drive to the beach, she's exhausted in the way that a new baby is when you've had to let her cry herself to sleep.

I've seen this happen with writers sometimes. They act before they really think about what they are doing. They don't read or follow guidelines for agents or editors. They decide to write a book in a genre that is hot at the moment even though they don't feel passionate about that genre. They don't read in their chosen area. They badmouth agents, publishers, reviewers in open forums online, forgetting the fact that the Internet is the world's largest elephant and it never, ever forgets. They are so excited to be a part of this wonderful crazy business that they are jumping up and down and getting in everyone's faces without thinking about what that might look like from the other side.

No, I don't have a particular incident or person in mind as I write this. I was just cleaning out some files and came across a note that I had taped to my computer monitor back when I was running a 2400 baud modem (in other words, a long time ago.) The note said simply that you needed to act like a professional long before you are published.

I've started working with Cassie to diffuse her triggers. I might change into jeans and then go sit back at the computer for half an hour. Move the blow dryer into another room and use it but go nowhere. When she realizes no one is picking up their keys she settles back down again. After she's calm, we can leave and it is usually a much more pleasant experience for us all.

The children's publishing world is a small one. People move around all the time. Writers become editors and editors become agents and you never know who you will meet that will help you grow. Editors and agents are interacting with authors on Twitter and Facebook, blurring the lines between work and after hours fun. Think before you dash off that smart-aleck response to someone but at the same time, don't be afraid to interact. I know, it sounds like a slippery slope but you can mange it if you just slow down and think before you act.

Put that enthusiasm into your writing and let your work speak for yourself.
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 11 comments — Leave comment )
September 16th, 2009 10:14 am (UTC)
Thank you for this very gentle and thoughtful reminder.
September 16th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading, Tricia. I had a gentle reminder myself in listening to an editor recently and seeing myself in one of her comments. Not a huge mistake but enough of a borderline crossing that I cringed a bit.
(Deleted comment)
September 16th, 2009 03:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Laura. With Cassie being both smart and a rescue dog there's a lot of work to help her learn how to act the part of the noble companion. :) Like you, I read some of the things people post and I wonder what they must be thinking. There are ways to share without sharing everything.
(Deleted comment)
September 16th, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Joyce. I've stuck my foot in my mouth a couple of time in the past but nothing (I hope) so bad that I couldn't recover from it and see the danger for the future. I've learned not to post when I'm in an extreme mood swing because it always leads to trouble.

I do think we can share a lot of ourselves and still be professional. We just need to be more self-aware sometimes.
September 16th, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC)
Brilliant post.

But oh, your poor puppy. Glad you've sorted out how to help her calm herself down.
September 16th, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Kelly. Yes, poor Cassie. She just works herself up into a frenzy and then I feel so bad. But now that we're trying to do the "get ready" things at different times they are hopefully losing their power over her.
September 16th, 2009 02:07 pm (UTC)
I made a lot of mistakes when I first created a blog, mainly being a little too enthusiastic. *cringe* I learned the hard way, after being smacked a few times, that the common bond of writing doesn't automatically translate into friendship, and not everyone is willing to be kind and cut you some slack.

I've also had to learn to curb my sense of humor, because it doesn't always translate without the smile that goes with it. Thinking is good :)

Excellent post!
September 16th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
I'm still so sorry that people smacked you. Grrr. I think the common bond of writing opens a door but if the person on the other side isn't kind, well, let the door close and move on.

I think humor is tough on the screen. I stink at it so I don't have that problem. LOL
September 16th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
Yep. Professional is the key, well one of them, but perhaps the most important. Your first impressions online and in forums might make the difference in whether or not an agent or editor wants to work with you.

I know for a fact that they look at your blogs and websites.

Thanks, Susan. Great post as always.
September 18th, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
Thanks, Lee. It is all about that first impression and the lasting impression you want them to take away after a visit. I'm amazed at some of the people who just don't get that.
December 11th, 2009 05:47 am (UTC)
Curb your enthusiam
Actually I was searching for the site to watch Curb your Enthusiasm online. But I reached to your site. I nothing found here about this show. Anyway I read your this article you have written very good. I like this.....
( 11 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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